It's NBA Finals week, which means that in just a matter of days I can return to watching films, going on dates with my girlfriend, and having a life in general. Until then, this one-time teenage fan now resurrected in the advent of HDTV has got basketball on the brain. When one of my best friends turned me on to Free Darko, I thought it was too good to be true. Basketball + Mythology = Yes Please. The Free Darko Manifesto outlines their player-centric approach to basketball appreciation, with a focus on players' archetypal personalities, abilities, and potential. This idea is so up my alley it's ridiculous.
Illuminating their philosophy are the illustrations of Jacob Weinstein, AKA Big Baby Belafonte, which fill their Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac and expand upon their approach: player style guides, physiological diagrams, mandalas and spirit animals. Rendered in slaps of bold color and stylized angles that would fit in comfortably next to any mid-century modern cartoon, Weinstein's illustrations are not only great caricatures, but mythic portraits. I'd love to share those of Kevin Garnett and Lamar Odom, both of whom have played roles in this year's great final match-up between the Celtics and the Lakers, but there aren't many images online and the book is hard to scan. Enjoy these, read the almanac, and appreciate the game and its players in a way you never had before.